African Penguin | Marine Life | Wild Safari Guide

Meet the African penguin

Confined to the waters of southern Africa, the streamlined body of this flightless bird is ideally suited to its marine habitat. The donkey-like loud noises it makes has also given it the nickname of the jackass penguin.

The African penguin is distinguished from other species by a black stripe and black spots on its chest, as well as pink glands above the eyes. These glands act as thermoregulators that cool the penguin down when it gets too hot. The spots on the chest are unique to each penguin, like the spot pattern on a leopard.

The recognisable black and white colouration of the African penguin is an excellent form of camouflage in the water. This countershading helps when predators look upwards towards the sky, seeing white, and for those looking down from above into darker water, seeing black.

Despite a few well-established colonies along the South African coastline, the African penguin’s conservation status is listed as ‘Endangered’.

More marine life

The Southern right whale got its name centuries ago as it was regarded as the ‘right’ whale to take down by whale hunters. It has since escaped the spears and guns and calls large parts of the oceans in the Southern hemisphere home.

Bottlenose dolphins thrive in the waters of both the Atlantic and Indian oceans along the African coastline. This species is the most abundant of all oceanic dolphins and it’s only the icy conditions of the Arctic and Antarctic regions that they avoid.

As the apex predator of the underwater world, the great white shark is a fearsome and at the same time enigmatic animal. With virtually no natural predators, the species rules supreme in the coastal surface waters of Africa.

The playful demeanour of the Cape fur seal has given way to the nickname ‘dog of the ocean’. And one that is able to dive as deep as up to 200 metres for a period of around seven minutes.

Popular destinations Across Africa

The cold waters of the Namib coast in Namibia are home to a wealth marine life. Visitors to this part of Africa stand the chance of spotting dolphins, whales, seals, and turtles. 


For an incredible experience, very few places on earth compare to diving off the beaches of Marsa Alam in Egypt. About 5,000 dolphins call the seas home.

Kenya  has several impressive marine parks along its coast. The parks are home to diverse marine life and offer excellent diving experiences for beginners and experts.

Mozambique has long been a tourist destination. And for those looking to experience the water, the marine life is rich and diverse, and home to bottlenose dolphins.

South Africa attracts local and international tourists to its beautiful coastlines. The West Coast is home to ocean dwellers such as the African penguin and the Cape fur seal.

African Penguins in South Africa